Now that you are all nearing the end of final paper deadlines, it’s time to take advantage of your much freer schedule by enjoying some of Chicago’s best. Seeing all of the neighborhoods and prioritizing the sites you want to visit and the food you want to eat can be slightly daunting so, for those that need a bit of guidance, here of some of MAPHCentral’s favorite places and things to do in Chicago.
If you have a car and it’s not too cold, going out to the Morton Arboretum is fantastic. It is a great place to walk and feel like you are not in a city and take photographs. If you want to stay in town and do something going to the Julius Meinl on Southport then up to see an old movie at the Music Box Theatre is splendid. Julius Meinl has great coffee, tea and pastries.
For holiday cheer, I love going to the Christkindlmarket and walking around the various stalls while drinking gluwein and getting little paper packets of spiced almonds and pretending I live in a German Christmas village.
For a burger and fries, I like The Grafton in Lincoln Square where you can get curry gravy for your chips and on Sundays there is an Irish bothy band that plays traditional music. However, the best pub in Chicago is the Duke of Perth. It feels the most authentic and there are fish and chip nights and cottage pie.
Speaking of authentic if you want real buckwheat crepes filled with savory stews in an authentic French atmosphere then you want to go to La Creperie on Clark. The Boeuf Bourguinon crepe is excellent and they are close to the Landmark Century Theatre which shows lots of foreign and independent films so you can make an evening of it.
For the best (pricey but really good) cocktail in a speakeasy, meets David Lynch film, meets Wedgewood vase atmosphere you want The Violet Hour and it is nice enough to take your Mom, Aunt, sister etc. and give her a Chicago experience.
(More of MAPHCentral’s favorite things after the jump…)
Try it. We dare you.
Did you know that the official cocktail of the Mentors is the Old Fashioned? Check out a top secret recipe above.
Related: Did you know that the official tie is the bow tie?
You might as well learn how to DO something while you’re here. Sheesh.
So after the MAPH Halloween Party many of you may be looking for that place to hide and work on your Lacan paper free from the distractions of your usual haunts. Here are some recommendations for places work around Hyde Park and Chicago.
Exterior of The Bourgeois Pig on a warm day.
North and Northwest Side
Head north and off the Fullerton el stop you can go to the Bourgeois Pig where they have good tea, coffee, sandwiches and lavender shortbread and if you find a table you can stay for a very long time undisturbed. It can get a bit busy so if background noise is not your preference choose another spot.
If you venture as far north and west as Lincoln Square (off the Western Brown line stop) you have your pick of coffee shops. You can switch from one to another though out the day. For those into branding there is a Starbucks, but even better are the little coffee shops The Grind, and Cafe Neo where laptops are welcome and you can stay all day. If you need a break you can always shop the secondhand stores or the the independent bookshop the Book Cellar (which also has a cafe) or take in a movie at the Davis as a reward for a day of hard work. Further down Lincoln Ave. is a Chicago Public Library branch and a Julius Meinl where you can also study in peace. There is another Julius Meinl on Southport and Addison (Wrigleyville) which is equally pleasant and close to both red and brown line stations.
Alliance Bakery’s vintage-y sign
Ben’s pick’s for good places to work are Noble Tree (Lincoln Park) it is four stories and has lots of space to hide and write and Dollop (Edgewater) and Cafe Mustache (Logan Square- near the California Blue line stop). I’d add Alliance Bakery which has decent French macaroons and a nice room next door where you can work while you nibble your pastries and sip your beverage.
So you need to avoid Harper and Z&H or the Regenstein. If you need the quiet of a library a library and don’t want to run into fellow MAPHers who might distract you try studying in the Crerar Library or the Law School Library. If you need caffeine with your studies, There is an Istria coffee shop in the Hyde Park Art Center or the Smart Cafe is also great. Bonjour Bakery is another option and a bit removed from campus.
Just a short bus ride from Hyde Park. You can use the Harold Washington Library on State Street or the DePaul University Library (just enter the DePaul building on State and Jackson through the Barnes and Noble and take the elevators upstairs) you do not need an ID to enter it is always quiet and full of business journals which will not be distracting. There are great tables in the Chicago Cultural Center where you can camp out and if you need a break you can peek at whichever free exhibit is on display. Right next door to the Cultural Center is an Intelligentsia with great coffee there is another Intelligentsia on Jackson Ave, close to the Harold Washington Library.
Happy haunting and happy studying.
Bring Wine to HB. Stay for Dinner
What recession? You’re flush with loan money (aka Play Money….aka money that you’ll have to be careful with and keep safe and spend on books).
Or, well, for now, you’re new to town, and can use your green status as an excuse so treat yourself to (just one, you swear) really fantastic meal before the whirlwind starts up. Chicago is up there with New York and San Francisco when it comes to gustatory delights. And if you think it’s a steakhouse-only town, here are some places that will disabuse you of this rumor. These places won’t break the bank wide open (and if you’re interested in Alinea, Charlie Trotter, L2O, or any of the others, you might start trying to get reservations now…).
Rather, these places are more than delicious for the price of entry.
1) HB: Up in Lakeview, chef and owner Joncarl Lochman puts together a menu of wildly different flavors and ingredients that are locally sourced. HB offers a contemporary take on comfort food, and it’s one of two BYO’s on my list. Prices are really, really reasonable for both the portions and the quality of the food. You never feel rushed either–but make a reservation if you can. (Wallet impact with wine: Pricey / Without wine: downright reasonable)
If you’re stumped on wine, hop across the street to The Gourmet Grape and pick up a bottle. Here are some recommendations of some CA wines they have on offer:
- Merlot: 2005 Duckhorn, Napa (expensive, but really delicious: $57)
- Zinfandel: 2006 Trentadue, Sonoma (moderate: $17)
- Sauvignon Blanc: 2007 Trinitas, Napa (moderate $18)
(More guilt-inducing indulgences after the jump…) Continue reading
Just the mention of Bridgeport Coffee Company got me thinking about my favorite places to get a caffeine fix in Chicago–a city awash in coffee. Four of my top choices are on Milwaukee Avenue. For anyone new to Chicago, Milwaukee Ave is a great way to get an introduction via bike ride / walk / El to Chicago’s Northwest Side. It’s the main artery: a street known for heavy bike traffic, vintage stores, restaurants, bars, and cafes. Over the past 20 years, the effects of gentrification (there it is: the g-word) have marched up Milwaukee Ave.
Perhaps more pertinent for new students and alums alike, the neighborhoods along this major diagonal artery (East Village [or, more recently according to silly apartment rental sites: Noble Square], Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Logan Square) are heavily populated by graduates of MAPH. You’ll find them busily at work at Lovely Bakery, Filter, Wormhole, and Cafe Mustache. (For natives: obviously, there are others on the list to be sure. Some, I don’t know well enough to comment on, so feel free to chime in. Others, namely New Wave Coffee, just make me sad. You could be so great New Wave. Why do you suck so much) Tour de Caffeine, after the jump…
I smell hipsters. (And coffee).
Perhaps best known as the home base of the Daly dynasty (you know, the American Pharaohs), Bridgeport is a small and eclectic neighborhood on the near South Side (though it’s only an 8 minute drive from Hyde Park, it takes about an hour to get there via public transit. Trust me. I know). For one reason or another, its residents fiercely defend the distinctiveness of the neighborhood. The local Assembly of God has gone as far as to make their own custom “Bridgeportopoly” which you can buy or win as a prize at Bernice’s Tavern (see below). Continue reading
Worth the hike
Lincoln Square feels like a cheerful little Chicago suburb. That’s kind of what it is. There’s no doubt that it’s pretty f’n far from everything, but a long escape from Hyde Park never hurt anyone. Lincoln Square used to be home to a big German immigrant population. A few brauhauses still dot the neighborhood, and you’ll find one of the city’s largest Christkindl markets there in December. In all,
Here’s a pretty generic evening to increase the happiness in your life.
A movie at The Davis Theatre: Shows before 6 PM are a paltry $5.50, and though the screens might cut off part of the frame (picture quality was sacrificed in exchange for more capacity a few years back), the seats are warmly worn and the crowd is friendly.
Dinner at The Grafton: A pub just down the street, The Grafton caters to local clientele and serves basic pub fare. The selection of whiskey and the warm, dark ambience are perfect for the “relentless” part of winter. You know, when it’s still cold and windy and rainy, and all you want is for the days to get longer.
Drinks at Huttenbar: It’s a German part of town. Go grab a pilsnerbier and be merry. Just be sure to only use one hand when you’re drinking. Germans apparently don’t like it when you grasp a mug with two hands. Don’t ask how I know this. I just. Do.
Getting There: Take the brown line forever. (Just kidding, get off at Damen or Western on the Brown. It can take as little as 45 minutes to get up there if you time the transfer from Millennium or the Bus the right way). Keep in mind that your tour directors (mentors) are always able to talk about things up north to do to keep you sane…
Get there before he does.
It’s no secret anymore. Or maybe it never was a secret. In any case, everyone knows about Logan Square now. But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to get out there for a night on the town before every beardo in Chicago takes his be-tighted date to Longman and Eagle (which, btw, got a MICHELIN F*CKING STAR) for ironic PBR’s. Sure, the Red Eye just did a huge profile of this exploding neighborhood. I still insist: you don’t need to head south to Humboldt Park yet to have a totally, like, authentic Chicago outing. Here’s what you can do in Logan Square that they didn’t talk about:
“Work from Home” – Or from New Wave Coffee, whichever you’re closer to. New Wave has a hugely open space and is the rough equivalent of the neighborhood’s lower-key version of Wicker Park’s Filter. If you want a smaller venue, Cafe Mustache opened more recently and is getting great reviews from totally legit Yelpers…
“I’m like, kind of an aspiring audiophile” – Retro tech is obviously now mainstream (the music industry grew in only one category last year: vinyl sales). So head over to Saki to and take some Instagrams of yourself buying the new Black Keys pressing, you hipster. Continue reading
Hopleaf. Mussels and brews
A few blocks west of the Berwyn CTA stop, you can have yourself a totally hip-in-the-yuppie-sense kind of night in the adorable neighborhood of Andersonville (which, is still technically kind of Uptown, but it’s cooler to call it Andersonville). A great one-two punch is dinner and drinks at Hopleaf followed by the Saturday evening performance of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind at the Neofuturarium.
Hopleaf has two bars, and a zillion beers. It’s cash-only at the tapless upstairs bar, but usually less crowded than the larger bar on the lower level. For my money at a Belgian gastro, it’s got to be either Corsendonk Brown or the Maredsous 8, but at a bar like Hopleaf, it’s easy to try something new. Don’t order a freaking Leffe. That’s all I ask. Splitting the Moules Mariniere and a side of frites is totally acceptable, and will only cost you 11 bucks each if you’re going Dutch.
After dinner, a little bit full of hops, head a few blocks to the Neofuturarium to catch the long running TMLMTBGB–or, 30 plays in 60 minutes. Every show, the ensemble cast of TMLMTBGB attempts to preform 30 plays in one hour. They write, produce, and perform all of these short plays (which last anywhere from 10 seconds to a few minutes). There are lots of wacky rules and unsettling invasions of your personal space, and it’s all a great deal of fun. Shows run at 11:30 on Friday and Saturday nights, but it’s not unusual for folks to start queuing up at around 10:30. Make sure that you’ve got your Hopleaf beer jacket on as we get close to the winter months.
Warmed by the slightly schlocky performance, head back to Hopleaf afterward and stay till 3. You’re in luck (or trouble) because Hopleaf is a 3 AM bar. Take the Red Line back down south and catch the free UChicago shuttle back to Hyde Park at the Roosevelt stop. The last bus leaves at 4:00 AM for HP. See more information here.
Dare you to finish.
Say what you will about the lines at Kuma’s Corner. If you go on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday around actual dinner hour, chances are you will be waiting an hour or possibly more (especially if you want to sit out on the patio). But go early (say, around 5) on a Wednesday and have a beer at the bar first. Or, if it’s a cold afternoon, you might want a whisky, which they have ON TAP (contain yourself though, there’s a lot of eating to be done). Bottom line, if you get there early for dinner, you’ll be able to sit down without much of a problem at all. Lunch is murder. I say don’t even attempt it.
And why go in the first place? This heavy metal-themed spot in Avondale serves up arguably the best burgers in town. Usually, I am opposed with the force of religious conviction to the idea of complicated burgers. Give me something with lettuce, tomato, onion, and ketchup, and I’ll be good to go.
But that’s because accouterments are expected to mask a sub-par burger. If your friend is mixing chopped onions and tomatoes into ground meat, chances are she is afraid to let the burger stand on its own. The thinking is often: if you can put enough sh*t on the plate, people will forget what the beef is actually supposed to taste like. Continue reading